Buying a Farm

To say someone had ‘bought the farm’ or ‘bought the plot’ or simply ‘bought it’ has had morbid connotations, for airmen in particular, since World War 1. It meant dying as a result of a crash or of being shot down. Many explanations for the term exist, including that compensation to a farmer whose land had been crashed into, or insurance following death of a farmer’s son, would enable the farm mortgage to be paid off. Or, perhaps, that it was a permanent retirement from flying such as would occur if, after leaving the service, a man had bought a farm. More likely is that it originally referred to the burial plot, and other refinements in understanding crept in later. World War I slang used ‘become a landowner’, and some earlier similar references go back to the 1800s.

Anyway, the farm we have just bought at Shongweni Farmers Market does not fall into those categories. Nor does it consist of land where crops grow such as our pictured purchase of pawpaws, as we call them, although they are a different species to the N American pawpaw Asimina triloba. They are Carica papaya, of Mexican and parts of S American origin, so perhaps should be known by us as papayas. What’s in a name? A papaya by any other name would taste as sweet.

No, the farm we wormed our way into buying, together with livestock, is one we put in the back of the car and brought home with us. Part of Sunday was spent in setting it up.  

Yes, we are now into vermiculture!

Actually, the vermiculture stage will last for about six months while we build up our ‘herd’, after which the primary aim is vermicomposting. Our garden will have a rich source of compost and worm tea for the plants to thrive on. No pictures of the actual Eisenia worms appear because, by the time I had deployed my camera, every red wiggly had wriggled completely out of sight.

© May 2017 Colonialist
Posted in Africa, DIY, Gardens | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

A Farming Heritage

On Saturday morning we met some friends on a visit from England at the Shongweni Farmers Market. Although within easy distance, it is somewhere we have not previously visited, and we were glad the venue had been chosen. The views are pleasant, with a spectacularly high waterfall across the gorge, and there is a playground for the kids.

As a legacy of the farming Heritage, markets where farmers can sell their produce have been part of the local scene for any number of years. This one, though, only started in 1998. It had twelve stalls that year, but as the pictures show it has grown considerably since. In common with such markets here and in other parts of the world, it has aslso been expanded to include some arts and crafts stalls. Many of these produce excellent goods, and it is pleasing that the mass-produced junk that often finds its way into such scenes is not present.

As another refreshing aspect of this market, dogs are welcomed provided the owner has them on a lead and carries a plastic bag and the knowledge and ability to use it. The grandchildren were entranced by the dogs of all sizes and shapes to be seen accompanying their owners. Many, like the Great Dane, were so well-mannered that the lead was not in use. One Boxer had his lead in his own mouth. Yappy smaller ones were constantly trying to break free of their restraints, though.

We bought a farm while we were there. More about that in the next post.

© May 2017 Colonialist
Posted in Africa, Dogs, Excursions, Grandchildren, Nature, Personal Journal, Photography, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tagged , , | 11 Comments

Steps on Water, Land, and Air

The picture below, taken of the route to J’s school a full day after the rains had stopped, is one that should have been used for the previous post.  It gives some idea that getting the kids to school had not been for sissies when the lake had been at its limit; that is, covering an area which would fill this frame from base to the walls either side, and nearly up to the stop street. The poor school guard had to get to work by this route, and spent the day with wet shoes, socks and trousers.

I had to collect J twice during this period, once after ballet, and once after her Monkeynastics training. She takes to both of these extremely well.

© May 2017 Colonialist
Posted in Africa, Grandchildren, Personal Journal | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Falling Damp and Yucky Squirmy Things

We have had days and days of torrential downpour. At first I was happy when our porta-pool, sadly depleted by a burst pipe, filled up again. Then it became ridiculous. Not to mention, cold. Even now that deluges have moderated, driving is not something one enjoys doing. You simply don’t know whether the large puddles harbour sinkholes, or whether the other motorists within collision range know what they are doing.

The more it rains
The more it rains
The more it remains
Still raining
It doesn’t take brains
To know the drains
To know the drains
Stopped draining

(Parody of The More it Snows (Tiddlely-pom) from Winnie the Pooh)

Bipalium land planarians, or hammerhead worms.

This slimy specimen appeared on the wall of the cottage today. They are only generally seen in the open in very wet conditions or at night.

Such stretched-out slugs have charming characteristics. Firstly, they eat earthworms which are good things to have in the garden. Secondly, they do so in a particularly disgusting manner, which consists of attaching themselves, pushing their ‘stomach’ outside themselves, and then starting to digest the part it attaches to. They suck the digested part in, and carry on digesting some more. Thirdly, if in a fit of disgust one chops them up into small pieces, they say, ‘Ooh, ta everso!’ while each piece grows to become a new worm. Nothing likes eating them; they are yucky. Other than, apparently, to one another. It seems they are happy to indulge in a spot of cannibalism when they run out of earthworms.

Altogether, one of the less attractive products of Nature.

© May 2017 Colonialist
Posted in Africa, Gardens, Nature, Parody, Personal Journal | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

Orange Meant, to a Degree


Each tassel in line

As speakers, fine,

Love and honour the mortar-board

Sign, like a drum, of bouquet now scored

From work; and orange hood

Interprets just how good!

(Wordle 299)

© May 2017 Colonialist
Posted in Really Awful Rhyme, Rhyme, Wordle, Wordplay | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Writing and a Ball Pen

Over the past couple of weeks, when I haven’t been conveying kids to swimming, netball and such things,  I have been very involved with writing — someone else’s. My novel way of earning a living has had me glued to the computer, but trying to avoid the temptations of social media or entertainment while shaping up a manuscript of a devilish fantasy for submission to an interested agent who provided the introduction. The writer is talented, qualified, and experienced, but I think both of us have been surprised at the number of issues which arose nevertheless. One often reads into one’s own work what one’s imagination is expecting to see, which doesn’t always tally with what is actually on paper.

I enjoyed the ‘away’ netball matches below, featuring young (now 9) J near the centre. She certainly gets around. She would throw a ball from one end of the field, and then somehow teleport herself to the other side of it to catch the next throw. or so it seemed.

Not that this field is in a pen, but the ones at her own school are.

Anyway, let me read turn to the manuscript …

© May 2017 Colonialist
Posted in Africa, Editing, Grandchildren, Personal Journal | Tagged , , | 9 Comments

Party Politics and Boiled Sprats

The grandkids’ birthdays seem to last
For several weeks on end;
With parties they will have a blast —
Two, schools; one, family’s;
Two, Spur (on anniversaries);
One big one all the friends to please;
Which send one round the bend!

The preparation which goes into all of this boggles the mind, as well as the political machinations regarding who and who not to invite, and to which party.  Then comes arranging, preparation, and transportation of food, decorations etc. and setting-up. Then there is the time spent on the present-handing-out and appreciation sessions. Finally the careful tally of whom to thank for what.

Many of the presents boggle the mind. J got one a bit advanced for her: an underwater camera which can also be bicycle- or helmet-mounted. I’m sure she’ll come to appreciate it soon.  Apart from her new bicycle R  got a smart watch which seems to do everything but make tea, and grasped its complexities in two seconds flat. It is a pedometer, a computer with access to internet, a phone, and a movie and stills camera. Oh yes, it also tells the time and acts as a stopwatch!

They really are utterly spoiled brats … no, to be fair, they aren’t really brats at all. Only now and again.

© May 2017 Colonialist
Posted in Africa, Grandchildren, Really Awful Rhyme | Tagged , , | 9 Comments